I have been thinking since many days how to put this piece together. There is so much that I can say about the future India that I would want to see. Howsoever I try to organize it, so much would still be left out. So in the end I thought to just put out my heart on paper – the vision that I have for my nation, the India that I dream about and the dream that I want to see turn into a reality. The means of achieving these dreams will need to be chalked out, the plans to realize these goals will need to be made, but I am not venturing into that here. This is only the outline of a broad vision: the A-Z of the India of my dreams.
India, for me, and I am sure for all those who love this nation, is not just a piece of land, it is all the people that inhabit this piece of land, the people that join together to make this land a nation, a culture, a living and breathing entity. So what I have attempted to list down below are the characteristics that I associate with the India of my dreams – the dream that we, the people of India, shall endeavour to turn into a reality in future.
So let us begin.
A. Accountable, all-encompassing, assimilating: Accountability, I think is a key factor which distinguishes a human being from the rest. Human beings have minds of their own through which they can think and act and rational beings. This makes human beings accountable for their thoughts and actions. This accountability needs to be owned up and practiced at individual, institutional and societal level. We need to build a nation where each and every individual has to be answerable and accountable for their thoughts, words and deeds. We need to grow into a society where brazenness is not considered as a prized possession and there are serious consequences of violating the principle of accountability.
By all-encompassing and assimilating, I mean, that the India of the future should genuinely and whole-heartedly embrace each and every individual for who they are. All the human-made divisions of caste, creed, race, religion, gender, class and any kind of such inequality that punishes a human being for the accident of their birth, cannot find any place in the India of our future.
B. Benevolent, brave: Benevolence and bravery, to my mind are two sides of the same coin. Only the brave can be benevolent because there are always chances that one’s benevolence may be misunderstood for weakness. But goodness and goodwill, in the long run, will always beget goodness, goodwill and respect, even though in the short run it may seem counterproductive at times.
Bravery does not lie in repressing the weak but in standing up to the strong on the basis of one’s moral authority and righteousness, and these are certain characteristics that India of the future will have in abundance.
C. Constitutional: It seems somewhat paradoxical to say that the future India shall be a Constitutional country, because that is the first thing that it is supposed to be. It is ironical though that it has become extremely essential to reiterate this today because, of late, there has been nothing more attacked than our Constitutional values, which have been eroded at lightning speed. If this remains unchecked, we may soon have to watch the spectre of our Constitution India losing itself into oblivion.
D. Democratic: India is the largest democracy in the world. This is the first sentence we come across when we start studying Civics/Political Science in our schools. We repeat it so often thereafter that the sentence loses all meaning for us. When India gained its independence after a long drawn struggle, the decision taken by the founders to establish a political democracy in the nation with a one person one vote system was a humungous one, given the inherent poverty, patriarchy and inequaly in the nation. Their vision at the time was that the political democracy that they were laying the foundation of shall lead to the establishment of social and economic democracy. However, these hopes have not been realized. We continue to live under the myth of democracy, underneath which all kinds of patriarchal, dictatorial and authoritarian tendencies govern us. It is high time that we build for us a nation and a society that is democratic at its very heart, that doesn’t believe in blind obedience and hero-worship but in valuing every single voice, be that of a child or an adult, a male or a female, a supporter or a dissenter, a multi-millionaire head of a Company or an ordinary employee of that same Company, the lowest of civil servants or the highest of political masters.
E. Empathetic, environment-friendly, educational: Empathy is as difficult to possess as it is essential to have. Be it an individual, group, nation, state or society, if an action emanates from a position of empathy that action can never result in causing harm to the core structure and values of society or humankind.
When it comes to environment, I don’t think any evidence should be required to prove that human beings have only accelerated on the road to their own destruction by destroying the environment around them – the same environment which is the very reason for their existence. Any people, at any point of time, if they want to continue to survive, can only do it if they learn to live together with their environment, nature and surroundings and not by treating it as just another resource to be exploited for their vested interests.
Education is something, the importance of which cannot be ever overstated. The most important and necessary resource in order to build a better nation and a better world is Education, which essentially means an ability to distinguish the right from the wrong, and the courage to practice the right.
F. Free: India of the future should be the one where the actual meaning of the word ‘freedom’ is not only understood but also translated into action. Each and every individual of India of the future should have all the freedoms that our Constitution guarantees us, and a system that is ready to protect these freedoms at any cost.
G. Genuine: Genuineness is being authentic and real. It means, for every individual, to have so much love for fellow human beings and surroundings that they always strive to make the world a better place for all. An individual who has genuine love and care for her nation will always strive so that her nation and its people only move towards better lives and times and in turn, the world becomes a better place to live in.
H. Humane and healthy: India of the future shall value humanity above all else. There will be no need for any other identity. Only a humane society can actually strive to be a healthy society and that is because a spirit of humanity encompasses all that is positive and drives away all that is negative.
Health is only another name for mental and physical well-being, which can best be guaranteed only in a humane society.
I. Inclusive: A nation that is inclusive and guarantees a right to dignified life to all its people can prosper as no other. This is because its people, once guaranteed their basic rights and dignity will leave no stone unturned in bringing out their best through their hard work and creativity, thereby leading to their personal growth and the overall development of their nation.
J. Just: Justice, as our Constitution envisions, is not only political but also social and economic. We have established the principle of equality before law but have not been able to uphold it to a desirable extent. Social and economic justice lags far behind and we appear to be moving backward rather than forward in this aspect. The kind of glaring inequalities that exist in this nation today are unprecedented. Our hope of a better future cannot be met till the time we seriously work towards reducing these inequalities and building a more just and egalitarian society.
K. Knowledge society: This term has been used so frivolously that it has lost its meaning and import. A Knowledge society is the one that prizes ideas and intellectuals and does-not ridicule them. It is the one that nurtures these qualities in its people and builds for itself a better tomorrow on the back of these qualities, which the present India is as far away from as possible and the future India will need to embrace whole-heartedly if it is to progress.
L. Licensing liberty: Every individual residing in the future India shall hold a permanent license for enjoying her liberty without the imposition of any arbitrary restrictions from either the state or the society.
M. Mindful: Any act of an individual or state in the future India shall not be arbitrary but mindful and well- thought out, with a genuine interest in increasing the well-being of each and every member of the nation and society.
N. Nurturing: India of the future shall leave no stone unturned in nurturing and nourishing its people to the best of their abilities, without discriminating between them on any basis whatsoever. Each and every individual shall be provided with an environment appropriate and conducive so that they can realize their fullest potential.
O. Open-minded and open-hearted: A nation that is confident in itself and its abilities will be able to embrace the entire world with an open –mind and an open-heart, and the future India shall be one such nation.
P. Peace-loving: I have not found a better explanation of what peace is than the one provided by The National Focus Group on ‘Education for Peace’, as part of National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005. According to the Position Paper on ‘Education for Peace’, prepared by the National Focus Group, “(a) Peace involves all aspects and dimensions of human existence in an inter-dependent way. Only those who are at peace with themselves can be at peace with others and develop the sensitivity it takes to be just and caring towards nature. Spiritual and psychological peace is neither stable nor viable without social, economic, and ecological peace. (b) Peace implies reciprocity. Values like love, freedom, and peace can be had only by giving them to others. Peace for oneself that excludes peace for others is a dangerous illusion.” This idea of peace shall be the foundation on which the future India shall be built.
Q. Quintessential: India of the future shall truly have its unique voice and personality and act as an exemplar for the entire world, through its right thought and conduct and action.
R. Rational and research-oriented: There can be no place for arbitrariness, blind superstitions and hero worship in the future India. Reason and logic will be given their due respect and shall be awarded with a place of pride.
Research and development will be an area that will not be a laggard but will be made to lead from the front. Ideas, imagination, creativity, critical thinking and intellect are the only means by which any progress is possible and thus they will not be frowned upon and alienated in the future India, as at present, but will be celebrated and rewarded.
S. Secular: The Preamble of our Constitution guides us on the path of Secularism in no uncertain terms. In practice, however, secularism is today frowned upon. It will be a long road till we again realize the core values that we had built our nation and society on, but this is the only road that can be travelled. We will again have to traverse this forgotten path if at all we have to make even an inch of progress in the future.
T. Truthful: It is ironical that a nation which calls Mahatma Gandhi as the ‘Father of the nation’ has developed deceit and lies as a second nature, not only at individual but at institutional and State level. It is of utmost importance that India of our future go back to the path of truth, the path on which we travelled proudly to gain our well-earned independence and our rightful place under the sun.
U. Uplifting: India of the future will not believe in bringing down and alienating its people but in uplifting them towards a better and brighter future, without practicing any kind of discrimination between them on any ground whatever.
V. Virtuous: Being virtuous is a quality that is associated with an individual. Yet, the future India shall be virtuous as a nation, at all levels of its composition – be it individual, state, institution or society.
W. Welcoming: India of the future will truly believe in “All the world is my family”. It shall not only internally move beyond discrimination and divisiveness but also strive to establish the same principles in the world community.
X. Xany: Positive thoughts and actions are bound to impart a xany character to the nation as a whole and will imbue it with a storehouse of energy to take itself forward with utmost vigour.
Y. Youthful: India is a young nation, both in terms of its existence as an independent nation in the modern world, and also in terms of the age profile of the people that inhabit it. India of the future shall remain so, but will learn to channelize the energy of this youth in the right direction and turn it into its biggest asset. The youth of today, rather than being terrorized and shut down, will be provided with all adequate means and conducive environment to nurture their talents and develop their abilities so that they can maximize their potential and in turn help in the nation’s progress.
Z. Zealous: Everything that India of the future undertakes shall be with a zeal and passion that is completely sincere and committed to its development. It shall be focussed on taking the nation and its people to greatest possible heights of joyful, peace, contentment and fulfilment.
Nivedita Dwivedi is a graduate of TISS, Mumbai